The typical healthcare facility is a busy place, with patients coming and going all day…
By: Don Thompson, Head of Marketing at TeleVox
Getting vaccinated against the flu is all too easy to neglect; this leaves healthcare providers wondering how to increase vaccination rates when patients forget to book their appointments. One possible solution is the use of patient reminder systems, which can help increase vaccination rates and keep levels of infection as low as possible.
Patient Education to Prevent the Flu at Work and School
Even though it’s easy to simply forget about getting recommended vaccines, some patients skip vaccinations because they aren’t aware of their importance. An estimated 7 million disease episodes can be avoided each year with the influenza vaccine, plus over 7,000 deaths – but does the average patient know how effective and important vaccines are?
In many cases, the reason why patients don’t prioritize routine vaccinations is because they don’t realize the dangers of skipping them. Flu season could be shrugged off as just “something that’s going around at school,” when around 20,000 children per year are hospitalized with the flu. The virus also seriously impacts adults, who may have to take off from work for days at a time if they become infected. An immunization reminder system can play a crucial role in helping patients prevent the spread of disease, by educating patients as well as reminding them to stay on top of their vaccinations.
How Can Healthcare Providers Increase Vaccination Rates?
Increasing vaccination rates can be done with the help of a basic patient recall system. But for best results, healthcare providers should go beyond basic automated patient reminders and leverage an omnichannel patient engagement platform. It makes a difference whether a flu shot reminder is sent out via email, postcard, or conventional text message. Emailed vaccination reminders result in a 20.8% increase in patients who were brought up to date on their immunizations, which is great progress. However, vaccination reminders sent via postcard show a 23% increase, and vaccine reminders sent via text message show a 32.1% increase.
In other words, it isn’t enough to ensure that each flu vaccine reminder gets sent; it’s also important to use the most effective channels to reach the patient. Healthcare providers should be able to send flu season reminders to any patient that needs it, as well as customize the messaging to spell out the importance of that specific vaccine.
When to send notifications
An immunization reminder system can be used for something like a general flu season reminder, or for a vaccine appointment reminder. While these messages should be sent on a specific schedule, there isn’t any particular day of the week that produces the best results. Rather, they should be sent on a schedule that gives the patient plenty of advance notice, without giving them the chance to forget.
An influenza vaccination reminder, for example, could be sent out as immunization reminder cards. A week later, a patient reminder could be sent via text message, followed by a second round of text messages on day 10.
Appointment reminder messages work best if they’re sent shortly before the appointment. Ideally, the vaccine reminder system should send a text message two days before the appointment, as well as one on the day of the scheduled appointment.
Sample messaging that offices can use
Patient reminders should be informative, educational, and convenient, regardless of their format. Here are some sample messages that healthcare providers can send to their patients through patient recall software.
Flu is typically mild. However, nearly 20,000 children are hospitalized every year with the flu. Keep your family healthy by scheduling your flu shot today. As a reminder, our records show you may be missing an important CDC recommended vaccine. Would you like more information on the recommended vaccine? Please reply “1” if you would like more information on the recommended vaccine. Reply “2” to decline.
You are due for a routine vaccination. Please reply “1” to schedule your appointment, or “2” to decline.
Sending vaccination reminders as part of your patient reminder process can be a powerful means to increase vaccination rates. If you’re interested in knowing more about how TeleVox can help you enhance communications and build trust with patients, feel free to get in touch.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Benefits of Flu Vaccination During 2019-2020 Flu Season; 2020 Oct 1 [cited 2023 Oct 16]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden-averted/2019-2020.htm
2 NFID [Internet]. Flu and Children; 2023 Mar 31 [cited 2023 Oct]. Available from: https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/flu-and-children/.
3 Irigoyen MM, Findley S, Earle B, Stambaugh K, Vaughan R. Impact of appointment reminders on vaccination coverage at an urban clinic. Pediatrics. 2000 Oct;106(4 Suppl):919-23. PMID: 11044144.